For Bicheng Han, CEO and founder of Somerville-based company BrainCo, the brain has always had untapped potential. Han, who’s a graduate student at the Harvard University Center for Brain Science, has been working on technology relating to brain activity since 2008, and more recently has turned his attention to helping people improve brain efficiency. “Everyone cares about their brain and they want to improve their brain agency,” Han says.
Han realized that much of the technology he was using in the Center for Brain Science, like EEG machines, could be used to help people train and revitalize their brain functions. But most of the technology was inaccessible to the public. “People know a lot about the brain, but a lot of it is related to [research],” Han says. “So we wanted to develop a wearable device where everyone can get one.”
That device is called Focus 1, which is currently in prototype form. Focus 1 is a head-mounted wearable device that monitors brainwaves using EEG. It connects to an app that’s filled with games that are meant to improve brain efficiency. Focus 1 uses neurofeedback training, which displays the user’s brain activity in real time—the idea being that visualizing your brain activity can help you focus, therefore improving your memory and increasing your attention span. Han believes this is key to helping people unlock the full potential of their brains.
“We want everyone to [be able to] influence their brain functions, and not waste our [world’s] cutting edge technology,” says Han.
Han hopes to have the Focus 1 prototype finished and shipped out by the end of the year. BrainCo is also looking to use their brainwave reading device to develop technology in other areas, including robotics. Han mentioned both the ability to turn lights and off, or control robotic limbs, simply by thinking about performing these actions.
Han admits that the marketing aspect of running a company is something he’s never done before, and he’s extremely grateful to MassChallenge for their guidance. MassChallenge, a Fenway-based startup accelerator, recently picked BrainCo to be one of their 2016 finalists. Part of MassChallenge’s vision to help young startups get ahead includes a mentoring program, where young CEOs can talk to more experienced veterans in the field about navigating the tough early days of business. For Han, who’s originally from China, this was a big help.
“Right now, we actually talk with the mentors a lot . . . because before we [were] just setting up our company . . . developing the technology,” Han says. “But we need[ed] to ask a lot about the manufactur[ing]… and the business culture in the US. I think MassChallenge has really helped.”
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